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What Is Electronic Invoicing, Why Should Suppliers Care and Who Are the Major Players?

When the topic of electronic invoicing – or e-Invoicing – comes up, there are several misnomers in certain circles regarding what it actually is. The simple fact is that it can mean different things to different people. First, let’s take a look at many of the possible terms and descriptions used when referring to e-Invoicing.

  • Electronic Data Exchange (EDI): A computer-to-computer exchange of electronic business data using a standardized format between two partners. This transmission is typically done through a value added network, or VAN. For example, a supplier may transmit their invoice data via a particular VAN where that data is automatically inserted into the customer’s accounting system. This is typically a one-to-one connection.
  • Invoice Automation: Data is captured from a submitted invoice, either through scanning by the customer or a third party, and automatically matched to the specific fields required by the customer. That data is then automatically inserted into the customer’s accounting system. The invoice originally submitted by the supplier is not necessarily electronic in nature.
  • Invoicing via PDF sent via email: Invoice data sent via email from the supplier to the customer, where the customer or a third party must extract the data from the delivered document through scanning or keying in of data, requires no special network or transmission method.
  • Third-party e-Invoicing Network: Electronic exchange of business data across a secure, online network. The supplier sends invoice data to the customer through the network, the network then validates the data against specific customer rules, and the data is inserted automatically into the customer’s accounting system. There is usually no paper or PDF involved, the type of accounting system on the customer side does not limit invoice submission, and the connection between supplier and customer is typically one-to-many or many-to-many.
  • Small business billing solution (such as QuickBooks or FreshBooks): Creation and delivery of invoices via email from the supplier to the customer via software connected to the Internet and sent via email. The system is not necessarily automated, but it can help streamline the invoice creation process on the supplier side and may sometimes be easier to insert into the customer’s accounting system – though not always automatically.
  • Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Invoicing System: An ERP system may be an end-to-end financial management tool utilized by suppliers, customers or both. This solution allows for automation of invoice creation and submission. What the supplier submits must then be compatible with the ERP system on the customer end.
  • Optical Character Recognition (OCR): Often used as part of an invoice automation solution on the customer side, OCR usually requires no specific change to invoice submission on the part of the supplier. The customer (or a third party on behalf of the customer) takes the submitted invoice, scans the invoice data and submits that invoice data electronically to the customer.

Now that we’ve identified terms that are often used when referring to e-Invoicing, let’s focus on a true definition of the term.

A true definition of e-Invoicing

While some may agree and others may disagree with this definition, Receivable Savvy believes a true definition of e-Invoicing invoicing is:

The electronic exchange of invoice and related business information (purchase orders, credit notes, debit notes, etc.) between a supplier and their customer where no paper or paper-related invoice is created, no manual intervention is necessary once the invoice leaves the possession of the supplier, and insertion of the invoice data into the customer’s accounting system is automatic.

With this definition, some of the descriptions above (such as EDI, third-party e-Invoicing Network and ERP) can be used when describing e-Invoicing while the others cannot.

There are reasons why leveraging an e-Invoicing solution makes perfect sense for a number of organizations, whether on the supplier or customer side. That does not mean that other methods of invoice submission should be dismissed, as many of those solutions offer great benefit as well.

For the purposes of this article, we will focus on third-party e-Invoicing networks and some of the major players in that space.

What exactly is a third-party e-Invoicing network?

A third-party e-Invoicing network is an organization or company whose primary purpose is to help customers streamline invoices delivered into their Accounts Payable department. The customer does not own the network nor does the supplier. The network is a third-party player, similar to the United States Postal Service, where they facilitate the exchange of a piece of correspondence between the sender and the receiver.

For example, a Fortune 1000 company may have thousands of suppliers located in many countries around the world. This often results in thousands or millions of invoices being submitted to the Accounts Payable department. If left unchecked, those invoices may be delivered in a variety of formats with no standardization. With multiple formats from different suppliers operating in different countries, it’s a tremendous task for any Accounts Payable department to get a handle on the incoming invoices in a way that minimizes error and ensures suppliers are paid on time. This is where the third-party e-Invoicing solutions play a role.

The solution provider works with the customer, enrolling suppliers onto the network on behalf of the customer. Once enrolled, the supplier is then able to submit invoices to that customer – or any other customer on that particular network – where invoices are validated and automatically submitted into the customer’s accounting system.

The customer must establish specific business rules and the supplier must ensure their invoice submissions adhere to these rule. Once this is established, the process of creating and submitting invoices can become much easier for suppliers and customers are able to streamline invoice acceptance.

Why suppliers should care

Suppliers should care about third-party e-Invoicing networks because more customers are asking their suppliers to submit invoices this way. Initially, some suppliers may be resistant to joining a third-party network at the request of their customer (which is, by the way, the only way a supplier can be enrolled in such a network in order to submit invoices). Most suppliers, once enrolled, begin to see the value of submitting invoices electronically – especially if they were submitting paper invoices or had a very high volume of invoices.

Suppliers can benefit from submitting invoices via a third-party network in the following ways:

  • Invoices can be submitted to multiple customers on the same network with a single connection
  • Suppliers may realize a reduction in DSO, usually by several days
  • Submitting invoices via a third-party network significantly reduces errors and exceptions – usually resulting in faster processing and payment
  • Most suppliers can begin submitting invoices at no charge
  • Customer support is handled by the third-party provider, not by the customer
  • Suppliers can reduce or eliminate inquiries into their customer regarding the status of their invoice or payment
  • Suppliers have more options available for invoice financing.

Now that we’ve tackled what third-party e-Invoicing actually is and why suppliers should care, let’s take a look at some of the major players in this space.

 

BASWARE

About

Established in 1985, Basware is the largest open business network in the world. As the global leader in providing purchase-to-pay and e-Invoicing solutions in the world of commerce, Basware empowers companies to unlock value across their financial operations.

Businesses are looking for new ways to increase financial performance, improve processes and gain competitive advantage — a challenging task in today’s volatile economies. We understand these challenges. With Basware, organizations of all sizes from any industry can simplify and streamline key financial processes to strengthen control, reduce costs and gain proactive insight into cash flow, as well as improve buyer- supplier relationships.

We enable companies not only to align and streamline internal purchasing and invoicing processes, but also to accelerate commerce via Basware Connected Commerce — by connecting with trading partners over the world’s largest open commerce network for e-Invoicing. As a result, companies are able to reduce the cost of buying and selling goods and services and increase control and visibility over the entire cash flow cycle.

Key Differentiators

Basware is consistently acknowledged as a market leader by independent industry analysts; and particularly recognized for its world-class solutions, high degree of innovation, superior service and the world’s largest open business network.

  • January 2016 – Basware selected as the best provider of treasury management systems and services by Global Finance magazine within two key categories: Best Provider of AP Solutions, and Best Provider of Integrated Working Capital Management Solutions.
  • May 2014 – Basware recognized as a leader in the “The Forrester WaveTM: eProcurement Q2 2014” report by Forrester Research Inc.
  • February 2014 – Basware honored for the fifth year as the Best Provider of Treasury Management Systems & Services for Accounts Payable Services by Global Finance magazine.

About our customers

Basware is trusted by the world’s leading organizations, connecting 1 million companies across 100 countries.

What Our Customers are Saying

“With purchasing and invoice handling processes flowing better, it’s easier for our suppliers and customers to do business with us.”

  • Mike Tweedie, IT Applications Manager, TH Real Estate

“No one wants to do manual processing here anymore – they are used to the Basware solution taking care of it automatically.”

  • Kyösti Bergdahl, Development Manager, DNA

 

TAULIA

About

Taulia, founded in 2009, offers free and flexible electronic invoicing to meet the needs of the entire supply chain, finally making 100% electronic invoicing adoption achievable. Taulia’s e-Invoicing solution, Inbox by Taulia, provides suppliers with a variety of e-Invoicing submission methods through one integrated platform – regardless of their current invoicing capabilities or requirements – and it’s completely free to suppliers.

Taulia delivers comprehensive onboarding for suppliers, the ability to immediately access suppliers that are already on the network, and proven interoperability with many ERPs. The platform provides compliant archiving and can meet country-specific VAT requirements. Taulia has integrated with nearly all the major OCR providers in different customer implementations.

Key Differentiators

Taulia’s e-Invoicing solution is completely and 100% free for suppliers. There are no crazy network fees, hidden transaction costs, setup fees, annual supplier subscription, taxes – nothing. Without fees, suppliers adopt the solution much more willingly and use it more often.

“No matter where suppliers are located, their technological know-how of which method of invoicing they use (we offer free-form submission, eFile, flipping POs, uploading, email or PDF processing), they can utilize and reap the benefits of our solution. We designed the Taulia platform with both usability and user experience in mind and set out to make a solution that not only was simple and intuitive, but also attractive in look and feel.”

  • Maex Ament, chief product officer of Taulia

About Our Customers

Taulia has 100 Global 2000 customers and works with more than 700,000 suppliers.

Our e-Invoicing customers are looking to convert a manual, paper-based process to an efficient, electronic solution, eliminating costs and providing transparency into business transactions. This allows for faster invoice processing and approval, while giving suppliers of any size visibility into the status of their invoice 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

What Our Customers are Saying 

“We quickly learned how flexible and intuitive Taulia’s solution was after submitting our first invoice in just a few minutes — it was a huge step forward in giving us more control over our invoices and payments.”

  • Joseph K., Plastics supplier

“We have 76% of our suppliers currently enrolled and using Taulia’s e-Invoicing offering, which is great for our AP Department because it comes in through the portal and everything happens automatically. When there are no issues, it automatically posts with no manual intervention needed whatsoever.”

  • Mary Helms, Global Process Partner for P2P, Sealed Air Corp.

One More Thing

Once buyers have implemented Taulia’s e-Invoicing platform, they have the option of turning every invoice into a revenue opportunity by offering suppliers early payments on approved invoices. For e-Invoicing customers, turning on Taulia’s award-winning supplier financing is just a few clicks away – the technology is already in place.

 

TRANSCEPTA

About

Founded in 2005, Transcepta connects Procurement and Accounts Payable professionals with their suppliers, enabling everyone to achieve greater profitability. Every day, thousands of companies access the Transcepta Network to improve e-Invoicing and procure-to-pay processes, drive financial value across the supply chain, and communicate dynamically.

Transcepta customers connect electronically with their suppliers over the Transcepta Network. Transcepta procure-to-pay transactions include e-Invoicing, Payment Status, PO Delivery, Purchase Order Acknowledgements, and Advanced Shipment Notices.

Transcepta provides true e-Invoicing. There is no OCR or scanning involved. Businesses interested in a straight-through invoice process or implementing a scalable early pay or dynamic discount program will find Transcepta an ideal fit. Ultimately any organization that wants to remove paper from their AP invoicing process will find Transcepta of great value.

“For over ten years the world’s leading businesses have been delighted to use Transcepta. The Transcepta Network is the only solution that combines scalable supplier connectivity, the highest levels of straight-through invoice processing, and supplier finance solutions that work for all stakeholders.”

  • Shan Haq, Vice President of Corporate Strategy and Development

Key Differentiators

Straight-Through Invoice Processing:

To eliminate invoice exceptions, you must choose a supplier network that provides true e-Invoicing and validates invoices using multiple techniques. The Transcepta Network includes four invoice validation products (Invoice Inspect, Invoice Analyze, PO Flip, and PO CloudMatchTM), each optimized for the unique supplier profiles across your supply chain.

Of course, to achieve 100% straight through invoice processing you need to connect your suppliers electronically without scanning or OCR. Transcepta connects your suppliers more quickly than any other network – resulting in a fast ROI. The Transcepta Network combines free service to all suppliers, the broadest choice of connectivity options, and the world’s leading supplier enablement program.

About Our Customers

Transcepta customers are leading organizations across every industry. Customers include, FIS Global, FleetPride, Harris Corporation, Manheim, Raytheon, University of Virginia, Tim Hortons, and 7-Eleven. The Transcepta Network processes tens of millions of transactions every year bringing reduced costs and efficiency to our customers and their suppliers.

What Our Customers are Saying

“A key part in our decision to choose Transcepta was their PO CloudMatch feature. We needed to eliminate paper but we also were very excited to move to a touchless process.”

  • Angela Boyd, FleetPride VP and Chief Accounting Officer.

“We wanted all of our suppliers to connect electronically, and we knew to accomplish that we had to have a solution that worked for all suppliers regardless of size and invoice volume.”

  • Alex Benanti, Raytheon Company

One More Thing

This video shows how Transcepta revolutionized the procure-to-pay process at three different companies:

https://vimeo.com/150694085/

 

TUNGSTEN NETWORK

About

Tungsten Network is a global leader in e-Invoicing, enabling businesses to send and track invoices, automate accounts payable and analyze spend. Originally founded in 2000 as the OB10 network, Tungsten Network Tungsten Network e-invoicing also creates a tax compliant invoice that’s used by both the buyer and supplier for workflow and tax reclaim purposes.

Tungsten has the only truly global e-Invoicing network. It’s used by thousands of companies to streamline the invoice process, saving time and money. Through Tungsten Network you send invoices directly to your customers in your chosen format. This removes the hassle of processing paper invoices, chasing the status of your invoice and re-issuing lost invoices.

Invoice data is processed, translated, enriched, validated and digitally signed in the Tungsten Network. Submit your invoices via the Portal or direct from your accounting system. The Tungsten Network validates your invoice against your customer’s business rules. If anything is wrong, you’re informed immediately so it can be updated and delivered quickly. Once accepted, your invoice data is translated into the preferred data format and delivered to your customer. A legally compliant invoice is created and enriched with all information required for tax reclaim purposes. A copy is then sent to you, your customer and the invoice archive.

“At Tungsten we believe in the potential for technology to enhance the way everyone does business, and as co-chair of EESPA I see that passion for innovation played out across Europe.

“With e-invoicing technology in place, businesses can not only adopt faster, smoother business practices, saving valuable time and resource, they can also hugely reduce the risk of being caught out by fraud.”

  • Charles Bryant, European Affairs Advisor

Key Differentiators

Tungsten Network is the world’s largest compliant electronic invoicing network, and can reduce invoice-processing costs by 60%. Compliance is a key focus for Tungsten, and as a mark of the highest possible standards Tungsten adheres to, the business has been awarded the first ever TrustWeaver-Verified Trust Mark.

About Our Customers

  • Number of buyers: 175
  • Number of suppliers worldwide: 188,000

One More Thing

Tungsten also offers Tungsten Analytics, which has been shown to identify average savings on analyzed spend of 1.6%.

 

About Receivable Savvy

Receivable Savvy helps supplier organizations master the complex Order-to-Cash process and maximize revenue through proprietary research, best practice content and insight from subject matter experts.

Founded in 2015, Receivable Savvy desires to cultivate knowledge and understanding among suppliers while also delving into their habits and practices. Comprised of industry veterans, Receivable Savvy strives to be the primary source of financial supply chain information for Accounts Receivable professionals focused on key elements of the Order-to-Cash process.

We help our members understand issues around customer master data, order management, credit management, invoicing, accounts receivable, payment, collections management, cash application, compliance and internal controls.

Register for Free Membership

 

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